Spotlight | Karri McPherson, Artist
a mural artist with an unmistakable style
Karri McPherson is one of Toowoomba’s many successful local artists.
You may recognise her distinctive geometric artwork from the counter at Bar Wunder, or from the exhibitions she’s done with First Coat Studios, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery or the Grammar Art Show. Studying her Honours year at USQ, Karri has already built a portfolio of work, with large-scale mural commissions around the state.
We met up with Karri in her studio to talk making it as an artist, her ideal weekend, and using Toowoomba’s scale to your advantage.
Name: Karri Mcpherson
Occupation: artist and muralist
Known For: her distinctive geometric artwork
Born: hong kong
Local since: 2015
First things first: Why Toowoomba?
I was actually born in Hong Kong and my family moved to Australia when I was around one. We initially lived at the Gold Coast for 10 years and then we moved out West to Roma. When I was in Grade 11 I moved to Toowoomba and became a boarder at St Ursula’s College. Following graduation in 2013, I travelled for a year before deciding I would move back to Toowoomba in 2015 to undertake a Bachelor of Creative Art at USQ.
What do you do?
I’m an artist and muralist and I specialise in creating geometric paintings. I began exploring this style of work around three years ago when I developed an interest in the vibrant patterns and hard-edged forms within stained glass windows. In the past two years I’ve started to expand my practice beyond the studio to create large-scale murals, where I’ve been fortunate enough to secure various jobs throughout Toowoomba, Warwick and Brisbane.
My business differentiates from others as geometric abstraction isn’t a common concept explored by artists in Queensland. My mural work celebrates the timeless beauty of shape, form and colour, providing various communities with its unique qualities of vibrancy, intricacy and simplicity. I am incredibly fastidious in my practice and I really value the finite details – my attention to detail allows me to achieve perfectly clean, hard-edged lines in each work that I create.
What have you learned about being an artist in Toowoomba?
Toowoomba has a fantastic art community and I’ve had the opportunity to grow and develop by engaging with different locals. As Toowoomba isn’t a huge city, it allows many artists the chance to start out their careers with a supportive network of people who are equally as passionate about the arts.
Although the size of Toowoomba has been beneficial in helping me establish a career, it has also proven to be a challenge. As a small city, there are only so many opportunities offered locally and I’m often looking to cities like Brisbane and Melbourne for new challenges. Between posting artworks for different shows and frequently travelling to and from Brisbane, the small size of Toowoomba and its limited opportunities can take their toll both physically and financially.
Through the University of Southern Queensland I was able to participate in a residency at First Coat Studios in 2017, which laid the foundation for my current career as a muralist. The residency provided me with the opportunity to network with professional street artists who taught me how to translate my work onto a large scale. This opportunity was only possible because of Toowoomba, and I’m incredibly grateful for that as I love what I do.
What does an average day look like for you?
I usually wake up around 7am and make my way to uni (with a coffee in hand of course). As I am studying Honours this year, there is always a lot of work to do and my days are quite long. I make my way to my studio at USQ and I generally bounce between essay writing, researching new art opportunities and designing/creating new artworks. USQ has a fantastic communal painting studio, so I often mingle with my fellow students and end up discussing new concepts and ideas. Usually I’ll stay at uni until around 5pm, sometimes later depending on the project I’m undertaking at the time. Once I get home, I make some dinner and settle down with a cup of tea and Netflix to unwind before bed.
What does your ideal Toowoomba weekend look like?
On weekends I work at a lovely local cafe/restaurant to keep up with any bills. As mural jobs and painting sales can be quite sporadic, I like to maintain a consistent, week-to-week income. My ideal weekend, however, would likely involve a big sleep in, a lot more Netflix and an excessive intake of coffee!
Only a Toowoomba local would know…
It’s entertaining when people complain about how it takes ‘too long’ to drive from one side of Toowoomba to the other. After frequenting Brisbane and its heinous traffic, Toowoomba is a dream to drive across!
FAVOURITE WEEKEND SPOT TO:
PERK UP: Grand Central Cinemas - I love to catch a good movie!
RELAX: It’s around half an hour out of Toowoomba, but the Ravensborne (Gus Beutel) Lookout is stunning. It’s so peaceful up there.
EAT: Urban Grounds Cafe (yum!)
INDULGE: The Baker’s Duck
SHOP: Grand Central Shopping Centre
CATCH UP: Ground Up Espresso – there’s such a great atmosphere there
BE INSPIRED: The beautiful street art around Toowoomba always inspires me. There’s a particular work by Brad Eastman (Beastman) along Hume St that always gets my creative juices flowing.
See Karri’s portfolio here.